How Do I Get Any Value Out of My Art Institute Classes?


Dear Steve,

I attended 2 campuses for the Art Institutes of California, the Orange County and San Diego campuses from 2005-2010. When I began enrollment I was told the school was not accredited.

However, I was told by multiple faculty members before enrolling, and when I transferred, that they were working towards their accreditation and should have it on or before when I was expected to graduate.

At the time that was estimated 2009-2011. Now it’s 2020 and from I’ve heard those campuses were never accredited.

I attended a community college in 2010 and not a single class transferred…. almost $80,000 later, ZERO classes transferred.

I just paid off my student loans as a condition of buying my home. And as such, I am finally comfortable to maybe go back to school.

My questions:

  1. Is there any way to check which schools will accept most credits from an Art Institute Student?
  2. Is there a way to get any of my money back?
  3. Did either school end up with accreditation?



Dear Kahla,

You can find yearly lists of federally recognized schools here.

In looking at the 2008-2009 list I could not find your school unless I missed it. I encourage you to look through the rest of your years.

There is no way for you to do a search, that I’m aware of, for schools that will or won’t accept transfer credits from any school. Some schools do have online tools to use. Here is the tool from Vanderbilt University or Penn State.

I would be very surprised if you found a school that would accept the credit hours.

I’m not aware of any process to request a refund for loans already paid. I’m assuming these are private student loans since the school was not accreditated.

The only avenue I could see if not in a refund but in a fight for a bankruptcy discharge of private student loans with a non-accredited school. But that ship appears to have sailed with the satisfaction of your loans.

And finally, as the Art Institute said, “Art Institutes schools do not imply or guarantee that credits completed will be accepted by or transfer into any other college, university, or institution. Each institution sets its own policies regarding the acceptance of credit from other institutions. Students interested in transferring credit earned at the Institute to another institution should contact the institution and request their policies on credit transfer.” – Source

But All is Not Lost

At least you have the value of the education you received during all those years and the skills you learned as well.

But more importantly, you have a hard and expensive education in what not to do. No sense wasting a perfectly good mistake.

So as you embark on this next chapter in your education I strongly urge you to use the same mindset you would when buying a car.

Kick the tires, ask questions, don’t rely on what the salesperson says, and check the facts.

For example, I just picked a random Art Institute campus and it was the Virginia Beach location.

Using the Department of Education College Scorecard you can learn a lot about the value of the education you might receive from the school.

For example, you can quickly see only 38% of students graduate. The ones that don’t graduate still have student loan debt.

You can see the average annual cost is $22,000 but the typical earnings following graduation, aren’t awesome.

As you return to school or consider schools, keep this in mind, you are buying a product. The value of that product is not fully realized until you actually graduate and the maximum value is determined by how others recognize the school.

All students should carefully consider the cost of obtaining the degree versus the rate of return in future earnings.

Admission representatives are salespeople and the financial aid office is trying to sell your butt into a seat. The only person that represents your interests is you.

It just might not make much sense to go to a school, get the degree, if the field of study is not going to be able to support the income that can be earned.

Keep in mind the College Scorecard data does not include private student loan results or costs.


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4 thoughts on “How Do I Get Any Value Out of My Art Institute Classes?”

  1. I have an additional question:
    I used my post 911 GI bill to fund my AS. Did the school have to reimburse students for the money they spent as per the law suit and if so, how can I claim my part?
    Thank you!


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